This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on August 20, 2017.
By the events of Genesis 45, Joseph had lived in Egypt for most of his life. During his time there, he has experienced the highest of highs (see: reward for interpreting dreams) and the lowest of lows (see: wife, Potiphar’s). Once Joseph had risen to power in Egypt, the dream he interpreted for Pharaoh about years of abundance followed by years of famine had become a reality. Throughout Egypt’s seven fruitful years, Joseph oversaw the storage of food. And once famine struck the land, families from all around came to Egypt for help, including Joseph’s brothers—the same brothers who had sent him to Egypt in the first place.
After following Joseph throughout his life, from his earliest days as his father’s favorite son to the leadership position he now holds in Egypt, the climax of Joseph’s story arrives at this moment. How does Joseph react to his brothers’ plea for help? The tables have turned completely since they were last together. Where Joseph was once weak, he is now in a place of power. His life is no longer at the mercy of his family, but quite the opposite: they stand now at his mercy and have come to him so that they might live. The content of Joseph’s first dreams—the dreams in which his brothers bowed down before him—had finally come to pass.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on May 21, 2017.
This passage is full of difficulties, allusions to apocryphal literature, and obscure references that make it easy to get lost in the process of interpretation. In fact, if the minister is not very careful, he or she will be found trying to find out who are the spirits in prison, why Jesus preached to them, and how His preaching affected them, among other difficulties. Rather than get lost in these obvious difficulties, it would be better for the minister to focus on what can be readily understood in the passage. By looking at the book as a whole and the context of the passage, the meaning of the passage can be discerned.
In 1 Peter suffering is a very common theme. In the very beginning of the book, believers are encouraged to endure trials and suffering just as the prophets had endured them. Not only does the concept of suffering appear in the opening of the book, but it is also found throughout the text. The word suffering appears twenty times in the book. Further, the author goes out of his way to use the term suffering when it is not necessary. For example, the author uses “suffering” instead of “death” in 4:1 when referring to the crucifixion of Jesus. In 3:18 there is good reason to believe “suffered” is the correct word instead of “died” as some translations use.
Now I Peter’s emphasis on suffering does not necessarily mean that this passage is about suffering, but the context leans heavily in that direction. Verse 13 begins by talking about the harm that could come to the believer and discusses suffering immediately. Not only that, the passage mentions Christ’s suffering repeatedly; and it is followed by another section on suffering beginning in 4:1. If one is to get to the heart of the passage’s meaning one must look at it in the context of suffering.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on April 30, 2017.
Rhetorically, 1 Peter can be organized around seven “Therefores.” They function like hinges that open a door for people discovering their identity as those reborn by the resurrection of Christ (see my previous post).
1:13- Therefore prepare to be educated like children.
2:1- Therefore rid yourselves of your habits before you were exiles.
4:1- Therefore imitate Christ’s model of suffering.
4:17- Therefore live as if you are at the end of time.
5:6- Therefore let your conduct with others in God’s flock match your conduct in society.
First Peter also redefines faith for the follower of Jesus. Six concepts are worth reintroducing (and explaining) to the church, many of which are used in the first chapter:
Exile– a person on a journey with Jesus, imitating him in life.
Resurrection– the cause of a Christian’s birth into the new age of Jesus.
Reborn or born again– the status of a believer in Christ.
Ransom– the transaction made by the blood of Jesus through Christ’s resurrection to liberate people from their indentured servitude to the old sinful ways of living.
Holiness– the condition of our lives as newborn babies in Christ, the choices we make to grow as converts, and the way God transforms us into his people.
Flock of God– the church as the pilgrim exiled community.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on April 23, 2017.
The Christian historian Luke records for us the first Christian sermon ever preached. It is of interest to all of us who have the calling to be preachers of the Good News.
Not surprisingly Simon Peter is the spokesman for the early Christians on the Day of Pentecost. He spoke after the remarkable display of the presence of God as the Risen Lord baptized his “little flock” in the Holy Spirit and then inspired them to offer a public display of spiritual worship in which they spoke of “the wonderful works of God.” And in a grand reversal of Babel, everyone was able to hear what was said in his own native language.
It became the assignment of Peter to explain what was happening. He declares that the New Age has broken into history, fulfilling the prophecy of Joel. At last, all who believe are filled with the Spirit—young and old, male a female—so they are all speaking as prophets. A special age of salvation has come so that “whosoever will” may call upon the name of the Lord and be saved before the final Day of the Lord comes in judgment.
Most of the basic elements of the Christian Gospel (the Kerugma) are found in this first Christian sermon. Much that happened in his life fulfilled Old Testament prophecies and types found in the worship rituals. “Jesus of Nazareth” has been “made” both “Lord and Christ.” He has ascended to a place of authority in the heavens. When the men of Israel heard “Lord,” they thought of deity. This name was reserved for God as the supreme one in their faith. When they heard “Christ,” they immediately think of the Promised One, the Messiah, the Anointed One.